Pope Francis asks aide to read ceremonial speech due to bronchitis

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, who has been suffering from influenza, said he delegated the reading of a speech at a ceremony on Saturday to an aide because he was unable to read it due to bronchitis.

“I have prepared a speech but as you can see I am unable to read it because of bronchitis. I have asked Monsignor (Filippo) Ciampanelli to read it for me,” a hoarse-sounding pope said.

The speech was for the opening ceremony of the judicial year of the Vatican tribunal.

Afterwards, the pope was able to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during an audience at the Vatican.

Francis, who is 87, has had a number of health issues recently.

On Wednesday he made a brief trip to a Roman hospital for a check up after he missed reading at his weekly audience, saying he had “a bit of cold”.

He cancelled appointments on Monday and last Saturday due to what the Vatican said was a mild flu, but he gave his regular weekly address to the crowds in St Peter’s Square on Sunday.

The pope was forced to cancel a planned trip to a COP28 climate meeting in Dubai at the start of December because of the effects of influenza and lung inflammation.

In January, he was unable to complete a speech owing to “a touch of bronchitis”. Later that month he said he was doing better despite “some aches and pains”.

As a young man in his native Argentina, Francis had part of a lung removed.

(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Mike Harrison)

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